My Very Own Deer and Doe Belladone Dress – Finally!

When I first started to sew I really wanted to make the Deer and Doe Belladone dress, it just screamed chic and a little bit sexy to me. Unfortunately, it was well outside my sewing skills, so I settled for the Colette Sorbetto and a Ginger Skirt. Both a terrible disaster, the less said about that the better. Anyhoo fast forward 6 years and I finally felt ready to tackle my dream dress.


I visited Victoria at Bloomsbury Square Fabrics last year and got some lovely fabrics including this stretch gabardine in red, which I thought would go well with this pattern. Then the doubt set in. What if I couldn’t fit it properly? What if I ended up doing muslin after muslin and lost the will to go on? So, to ease the strain and not put too much pressure on my seriously absent sewjo I decided to do a fitting class at Guthrie & Ghani. I ended up doing the Making Your Perfect Fit Dress Pattern workshop. It was led by Layla Toyah and she was supported in the morning by Dee. It was an absolutely fantastic day, full on, but so very good.

Everyone brought a range of patterns – big 4 and indies. There were discussions about ease and how much you really need where depending on how you like your clothes to fit and how much you like to breathe. We then set about measuring ourselves. Layla and Dee checked our measurements afterwards. I think I need to start doing this in front of a full-length mirror for more accuracy. I also need to consistently remember to go with my high bust and then do a full bust adjustment (FBA). I need to do an FBA every.single.time. Unless I am sewing a Cashmerette pattern, then it’s all good.

I made a lot of changes to my pattern, but the comforting thing about the whole day was the fact that everyone had to make numerous changes to their paper patterns initially and then again once they had made their muslins.


My original pattern piece.

To start with, based on my measurements, I made size 52 and did a 3″ FBA.


I then added 1″ to all side seams except for the front waistband where I added 1.5″.  I forgot to bring along my instructions, so I winged it and Layla helped me.

After making up the dress it was time to try it on and for Layla to step in with fitting advice. In the photos below you can see the adjustments made on the lefthand side (back) and on the righthand side (front).

DSC01136DSC01134I have quite a narrow back, so we did a narrow back adjustment and Layla pinned out the extra fabric. Then we took in the shoulders, which were acting up, for good measure. It looked like about 1″ from both areas. The neckline was gaping slightly, but the calico was probably a bit stretched out by that point, so we left it, but Layla showed me how to put in a v-neck, because I like those a bit more.  Finally, we did a 3/4″ full butt adjustment, this has been a long time coming – I tried to wear a TATB Miette Skirt last weekend and had to come back home because it was basically indecent! Surprisingly we did not do a sway back adjustment.

The original bust darts were not a good look, you can see the puffiness at my bust apex on the left, so Layla suggested changing the waist dart to a curved one. This got rid of the weird bubble and puffiness that you can see in the photo.

After all of the pinning and slashing it was time to transfer the adjustments back to the paper pattern. The idea of this has always puzzled me, but watching Layla do it made it all make sense and so long as I do it again on a pattern pretty soon I am (fairly) confident I’ll be able to do it again.

As well as guiding us through the fitting process Layla also gave us some sewing tips along the way including a quick way to sew darts without lots of pinning and a great way to avoid the weird bubble thing at the bottom of invisible zips. I’ll try to include some photos when I do my Belladone in my fashion fabric.

It was a busy day, but it was well worth it!

A TOFT ‘Cobblestone’ Hat

I went to a Mosaic Knitting workshop at TOFT UK earlier this year and later saw the Cobblestone Hat pattern and was inspired to make it for the autumn. I have only dabbled in colour work (read a 1/4 finished pair of mittens) once before, so I thought this would be a nice achievable project.



I bought a kit from the shop and used TOFT Mushroom DK 50gTOFT Green DK yarn 25g and a TOFT Pom Pom Cocoa. The cast on was pretty straight forward and then the colour work and fun began. I was knitting away thinking I would have it finished in the recommended 5 to 10 hours when I figured my hat looked nothing like the pattern and was pretty tiny. After a while I realised I had been reading the pattern wrong and not repeating any of the rows. Then began the painful task of unpicking. There are a lot of slipped stitches in this pattern, so it was not easy. But, I have learned so much from messing up my knitting over the past year and half. So, although I cursed like a sailor, I was pretty happy throughout this project.

Life and other projects caught my attention and before I knew it six months had passed and my hat was no further along. So I picked it up again a few weeks ago and wouldn’t you know I made exactly the same mistake as I did the first time! Cue unpicking to the nth degree. It’s fine, it’s all learning. Right? Right.

Thankfully, I pushed through and I am now the proud owner of a new hat.


It is a one size fits all pattern and the instructions to block the hat flat, which I did, but I think I may have to go at it again with a balloon, because it’s not quite the ‘perfect fit’ yet; I need a bit of extra room for my natural hair, which seems to be getting bigger by the day. I am also considering lining it somehow with silk, because the wool seems to suck all of the joy (moisture) out of my hair and leaves me with serious hat hair. Have you ever done this? Did it help?

I thought  I had killed the pom pom after it had been in the water, it looked like Dr. Watson after one of his baths only worse.  But I am happy to report it made a full recovery and now looks slightly curly, which I think looks seriously cute.

I am still really pleased with the finished article and best of all it goes with my mushroom TOFT Skeleton scarf that I made a few years ago!

My next project is a pair of mittens, not the ones I mentioned earlier a different pair. Haha! Like I said I am easily distracted.

Happy knitting!

Fabric Haul – Bloomsbury Square: Fabrics of Distinction

On Wednesday I went on a road trip to Midhurst, Sussex. It’s a beautiful part of the country and the weather was unseasonably warm – still is.

Victoria Pender, the woman behind all of the beautiful fabrics at Bloomsbury Square, invited me to visit her shop a while ago and I was excited to explore a new source of fabric. I was not disappointed.

Victoria’s fabrics and haberdashery are extensive.

The shop is located in a very creative space: in the same building there is a woman, who works with leather and another, Claire, who leads sewing workshops. Victoria introduced me to Claire and her students for the day, who were working on Couture Jackets. They were on week 3 of a 4 week course and their jackets already looked amazing. They were working with Linton Tweeds and silk linings. There was a lot of hand sewing going on, apparently it takes 120 hours to make one. That alone tells me I will never make one, though I wouldn’t mind wearing one! I actually have some Linton Tweed in my stash from a shopping trip with my partner in crime, Bianca, when we went to a sewing exhibition at the NEC a couple of years ago, maybe I should rethink the jacket. Hmm.

Victoria gave me a tour of her shop, there were so many beautiful fabrics, it was wonderful. I had tried to be good and made a shopping list the night before the trip of my to sew list, despite my list I was seriously tempted to go off plan. I am still trying to decide on the wool for a winter coat; I plan to make the Closet Case Files Clare Coat and I want to push the boat out on some lovely wool and a silk lining. It took all of my will power not to commit on the spot, but the Kelly Anorak is first on my coat making list, because my friend Bianca gave me the pattern last Christmas and I only started to cut out the pattern tonight (oh the shame! note to self: stop stashing!)


Wool Coatings, including a TARDIS blue and a tempting aubergine.



Some more coatings and denim.



Lots of cords including needle cords and the stretch gabardines.

After much temptation and deliberation I chose some stretch gabardine to make the Simplicty Mimi G 8177 Trouser pattern, there’s a video sew along, that makes me feel like I can sew anything! I also got some in the red colourway to make the Deer & Doe Belladone Dress. I have wanted to make this dress ever since I started to sew, so I am really looking forward to finally tackling it, I love the cutaway in the back. For Valentine’s Day they made a heart shaped one, which I thought was really cute too.


My haul!


In an attempt to up my sewing skills I bought some buttery soft satin, which will become a Cashmerette Webster Top, it is still unseasonably warm here; so I think it will get a lot of wear with one of my trusty cardigans. I also think it would make a great lining for my future Clare Coat.


I got some glass head Merchant & Mills pins, some short ones and longer ones. They are magnetic and not rusty – so a definite upgrade from the ones I have been using up until now (including hat pins! Do.not.ask) and I shall not look back.


Victoria was really welcoming and I had a lovely day and Bloomsbury Square has a fine collection of quality fabrics, that I will definitely be using again, in fact I have my eye on an electric pink waterproof cotton that I think will make a great jacket. It was so much fun talking about all things sewing related and I also came away with some great tips, including one to use a strip of stretch interfacing for doing twin needle work on necklines and cuffs. While I was eyeing her book collection I spotted ‘The Dressmaker’s Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques’. It’s great, it has sections on linings, interlinings and darts. It is definitely going to get a lot of use and it is spiral bound so it lies flat while you are working!


Disclaimer – none of the links are affiliated. Victoria gave me a generous discount, but all thoughts are my own.